HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — The Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), is targeting launch on June 24, 2019, with the launch window opening at 11:30 p.m. ET. Lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, this mission will deliver 24 satellites to space on the DoD’s first ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.
The STP-2 mission will be among the most challenging launches in SpaceX history with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits, a final propulsive passivation maneuver and a total mission duration of over six hours. In addition, the U.S. Air Force plans to reuse side boosters from the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy launch, recovered after a return to launch site landing, making it the first reused Falcon Heavy ever flown for the U.S. Air Force. (more…)
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Ready, SET, go — NASA’s Space Environment Testbeds, or SET, will launch in June 2019 on its mission to study how to better protect satellites in space. SET will get a ride to space on a U.S. Air Force Research Lab spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Orion’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test vehicle rolled out from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Abort System Facility to Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and teams completed their first launch rehearsal, and flight test readiness review on June 4, in preparation for its planned July 2 launch.
During the flight, a test version of Orion will launch on a booster to more than six miles in altitude where Orion’s launch abort system (LAS) will safely pull the capsule away from the rocket. The team will be stacking all the AA-2 elements together at the launch pad over the next few weeks.
The test will demonstrate Orion’s LAS can steer the capsule and future crew to safety if an emergency occurs during ascent on the Space Launch System rocket. Ensuring safety will pave the way for Artemis missions near the Moon, enabling astronauts to set foot on the lunar surface by 2024.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A new kind of atomic clock, non-toxic propellant system and missions to characterize how space weather interferes with satellites and communication transmissions are one step closer to liftoff. With the second-ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch complete, these NASA technologies await the powerful rocket’s next flight.
NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program Phase II Award: Up to $500,000 for 2 Years
Solar Surfing Doug Willard NASA Kennedy Space Center
In 2018 the Parker Solar Probe launched, planning to approach the Sun to within 8.5 solar radii of its surface. This is seven times closer than any previous mission, allowing first-time particle, radiation, and magnetic field measurements of the Sun’s corona. The Parker Solar Probe utilizes a solar shield comprising a lightly-coated carbon composite layer on top of four inches of carbon foam. However, the temperature limits of the shield restrict the closest approach distance.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launched its first commercial satellite on Thursday, with its three first stage boosters successfully landing for later reuse.
The world’s most powerful booster lifted off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:35 p.m. EDT. The rocket successfully orbited the Arabsat 6A communications satellite.
NASA needs better methods to track its efforts to minimize costs on the more than $16 billion worth of engineering and technical services the space agency purchases annually, according to a new audit by the Inspector General (IG).
“Although NASA has a variety of mechanisms at the Headquarters and Center levels to share lessons learned, many of these are informal, dependent upon personal relationships between Centers, and not focused on sharing information on efficiencies,” the audit said.
Florida Todayreports on plans by Blue Origin to expand its facilities in Florida:
Labeled as “South Campus” in water management district documents obtained by FLORIDA TODAY, the 90-acre expansion will connect to the factory at Exploration Park, which is a publicly accessible region just west of KSC’s main gate. The two-lane Space Commerce Way winds through the area, connecting other players like satellite company OneWeb, economic development agency Space Florida and the main entrance to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The south campus will nearly double the size of land Blue Origin already leases from NASA, enabling the Jeff Bezos-led company to establish “programs complimentary to those constructed on the adjacent North Campus,” according to the documents. Blue will build 270- and 313-foot variants of New Glenn rockets in the massive blue-and-white factory on the north campus, which will launch no sooner than 2021.
Blue Origin’s media team did not respond to an inquiry about the land, which the company leased directly from NASA for 50 years. The total payments over that period will equal $20.3 million according to the final lease signed in December, which was also obtained by FLORIDA TODAY.
Building out a complex and finding a need for additional capacity isn’t uncommon in the spaceflight industry.
If you’ve been puzzling over exactly why NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suddenly floated the idea of flying the first Orion space capsule to the moon next year without the Space Launch System (SLS), The Washington Post has a couple of answers today:
SLS is much further behind schedule than anyone knew; and,
Editor’s Note: Last week the space agency said it is reassessing plans to conduct the first SLS/Orion flight during the first half of 2020.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will soon return humans to the Moon for decades to come, and the system that will transport astronauts from Earth to the Gateway near the Moon is literally coming together. Building on progress in 2018, most of the major manufacturing for the first mission is complete, and this year, teams will focus on final assembly, integration, and testing, as well as early work for future missions. NASA is focused on launching the first mission, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1),
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — For the first time in history, a commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket, which launched from American soil, is on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX successfully launched an automated Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. It was the first flight test under NASA’s Commercial Crew program to return astronaut launches to U.S. soil for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
The company’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 2:49 am EST from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft, which is carrying an instrument mannequin named Ripley, safely separated from the second stage and began a 27-hour voyage to the space station.
The Falcon 9 first stage successfully touched down on an off-shore drone ship.
After docking on Sunday morning, the Crew Dragon will remain at the station for five days. It is scheduled to return to Earth on Friday, March 8. SpaceX plans to reuse the capsule for an in-flight abort test scheduled for June.
This is the first of two flight tests for the Crew Dragon variant. A second flight with two NASA astronauts is scheduled for July. Crew Dragons will be certified to carry astronauts on a commercial basis.
Boeing is also planning to conduct flight tests of its Starliner crew vehicle later this year. The current planning dates for Commercial Crew flight tests are:
Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): NET April 2019
Boeing Pad Abort Test: NET May 2019
SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test: June 2019
SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): July 2019
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): NET August 2019
The schedule for the Crew Dragon mission is below. NASA TV will be providing live coverage of all events. SpaceX also plans to cover the docking on its website.
Saturday, March 2, 4 a.m.: SpaceX Demo-1 post-launch news conference from Kennedy Space Center, with representatives from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, International Space Station Program and Astronaut Office, and from SpaceX.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft—designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil—is ready for its debut flight on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. It is a first-of-its-kind test mission of a commercially-built and operated American spacecraft and rocket designed for humans.
The Demo-1 uncrewed flight test, targeted to launch March 2, will demonstrate the company’s ability to safely launch crew to the space station and return them home.